The Kruger National Park is the flagship of reserves within the boundless Southern African Region. It consists of a diverse range of landscapes that showcase indigenous bush, sub-tropical Lowveld vegetation, fertile valleys and stepped hills. The Northern Regions are also a treasure chest of archaeological and historical sites that encourage a vivid reclamation of activities of the past.
The first pioneers to ever really be able to settle in the region, were the Voortrekker groups led by Louis Trichardt and Hans van Rensburg. The extensive abundance of tsetse fly causing high mortality rates in cattle meant that most of the local tribes of the time were also unable to settle in the area, although they moved in and out regularly on frequent hunting expeditions.
In the 1800’s, rumours of gold and tradable commodities such as ivory and animals pelts lured hundreds of Europeans into the region which subsequently also created a major decrease in animal numbers due to the escalating hunting that came with the settlers.
Paul Kruger, who was president of the Republic of Transvaal at the time, was informed of the rapid destruction of wildlife in the region and in 1989, subsequently convinced the Transvaal Parliament to establish a protected area for the wildlife in the Lowveld Region. Although his idea was initially met with huge amounts of scorn and derision, he eventually managed to convince his parliamentary colleagues and the birth of the park began.
This initial protected area was called the Sabie Game Reserve and pretty much covers the area covering the Southern Section of the Kruger National Park South of the Sabi River and north of the Crocodile River. The first guests were welcomed into the park in 1927 under the watchful eye of the first warden – Col. James Stevenson-Hamilton. He was then to spend the next 40 years protecting and establishing the park towards what it has become today.
The Kruger National Park of today is rich in biodiversity and is a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts with close to 147 mammals, over 330 species of indigenous trees, 49 different fish species, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, as well as over 500 bird species. It was established in 1898 and stretches for 350km from south to north long the Mozambiquan border and covers an area of nearly 2 million hectares.
The most renown of all the animals is the list of Big 5. This term was established in the strong hunting days and refers to animals that were the most dangerous to hunt. They include the elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo. In addition to the Big 5, the Kruger park is also home to a wide range of threatened and endangered species such as the African Wild Dog, the Cheetah, the Sable Antelope and the Roan Antelope.
With such a wide range of species residing within the park, it is a haven for any form of enthusiast from birders, beginners or experienced botanists. Two or three day trips (or longer) can be arranged into the park staying at anyone of the 12 main rest camps or any of the smaller camps linked to the main rest camps.
The 12 main rest camps offer a variety of accommodation possibilities such as camping sites, affordable huts, safari tents, bungalows, family cottages and even luxuriously appointed guesthouses. The 4 Bushveld camps provide luxurious accommodation in smaller, more remote settings. Access to all Bushveld camps is restricted to overnight visitors with reserved accommodation.
Alternatively, Sable Tours is also able to offer you day visits into the park, whereby you will be collected early in the morning and taken through to the park for an entire day’s safari and returned back to you accommodation venue in the late evening.
A visit to South Africa is just not complete without a visit to the world renown and historical Kruger and is a definite to be added onto any itinerary while in the Lowveld.